Laing, M. and Cook, I. R. (forthcoming) Governing sex work in the city. Geography Compass. 

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Abstract: Sex work is often constructed as an urban ‘problem’.  As a result, sex workers, clients and the spaces in which people buy or sell sex are frequently the subject of intervention from those governing cities.  This paper considers the ways in which problems and solutions are framed in the wider governance of sex work in cities in the global north.  It draws on a range of academic literature to show how the urban governance of sex work takes relational and territorial forms.  Governance is relational in the sense that it is about ‘improving’ the connections and relationships between those involved in sex work and those seemingly affected by sex work; and it is territorial in that placing sex work in the city through spatial exclusion, containment and the construction and maintenance of spatial boundaries is often the focus of strategies of governance.  The paper argues that while the urban governance of sex work is contingent, there are often resonances and connections between cities in how they frame the problem of sex work and the interventions used.  The paper concludes by highlighting future areas for research on the subject of sex work, governance and the city.


Related articles by Mary Laing (née Whowell) and Ian R. Cook:

Atkins, M. and Laing, M. (2012) Walking the beat and doing business: exploring spaces of male sex work and public sex. Sexualities 15 (5-6): 622-643. [available here]

Cook, I. R. (forthcoming) Making links between sex work, gender and victimisation: the politics and pedagogies of John Schools. Gender, Place and Culture. [free pdf] 

Cook, I. R. and Whowell, M. (2011) Visibility and the policing of public space. Geography Compass 5 (8): 610-622. [free pdf]

Laing, M. (2012) Regulating adult work in Canada: the role of criminal and municipal code.  In:  Johnson, P. and Dalton, D. (eds.), Policing sex. London: Routledge:. 166-184.

Laing, M. and Irving, A. (2013). PEER: exploring the lives of sex workers in Tyne and Wear. Newcastle upon Tyne: Northumbria University. [free pdf]

Whowell, M. (2010) Male sex work: exploring regulation in England and Wales. Journal of Law and Society 37 (1): 125-144. [available here]